Just when Kyrie Wilson thought he was done with school, along came his first NFL training camp.
Wilson used to spend his time away from the football field studying toward a criminology degree at Fresno State. These days he’s spending it digesting the Oakland Raiders’ defense while trying to make the team as an undrafted free agent.
“Even though you don’t have class, it’s still like school,” said Wilson, a three-year starter for the Bulldogs.
“You’ve still got to go back to your room and study all the plays, all the film that you get in practice and go over stuff so you don’t make the same mistakes again.”
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Even though you don’t have class, it’s still like school.
After making 38 career starts at both inside linebacker positions in Fresno State’s 3-4 defense, Wilson finds himself as a middle linebacker in Oakland’s 4-3. Except like most NFL teams these days, the Raiders are a hybrid. They’ll also line up in a 3-4 or 5-2.
As a middle linebacker, Wilson is responsible for knowing every permutation, which is why he spends two hours after every meeting going over film.
“Everything’s a lot more complicated,” he said. “Also, our coaches want you to know everything. What the safeties are doing. What the linemen are doing. At inside linebacker you’re basically the quarterback out there. You’ve got to know everything that’s going on.”
Wilson is listed as fourth-string on the depth chart, though he says he’s been running with the third team in practice. His chances of making the 53-man roster are remote.
38 career starts for Kyrie Wilson at Fresno State
The Fresno native and Ridgeview High graduate is aware of the long odds he’s facing but is relishing the opportunity.
“I’m just trying to go out there and show them what I can do and show them I’m good enough to make this team,” Wilson said.
Wilson, of course, isn’t the only former Bulldog on the Raiders’ roster. Over the course of training camp, he’s discovered that having the same alma mater as the starting quarterback has its benefits.
“I yell, ‘Bulldogs!’ every time he makes a play,” Derek Carr said. “We got him up there to sing, and I was the only one clapping when he said he was from Fresno State. I definitely don’t forget where I came from.”
I yell, ‘Bulldogs!’ every time he makes a play.
Derek Carr, on undrafted rookie Kyrie Wilson
Wilson appreciates the support: “It’s good to have a former teammate that you used to play with always looking out.”
When asked about his favorite team growing up, Wilson will only reluctantly admit an allegiance to a certain Bay Area team that wears red and gold.
Black and silver are the 23-year-old’s favorite colors now.
“It’s definitely changed,” he said.